BARRY’S BAY – Bullying is not okay at Madawaska Valley District High School (MVDHS).
On April 10, International Day of Pink, students and staff united to take a stand against bullying.
The high school glowed pink, as countless individuals came to school Wednesday featuring their best pink attire, from pink shirts, pink hats, pink pants, pink ties, and pink jewelery. The school’s mascot even got a makeover – the theme, everything pink!
Every second Wednesday in April, is International Pink Day. Communities across Canada come together to celebrate diversity and raise awareness to stop homophobic, transphobic and all forms of bullying.
And that is exactly what MVDHS is trying to accomplish, the school’s support counsellor, Donna Marie Cybulskie said.
The International Day of Pink began nearly five years ago in Nova Scotia, when two boys witnessed a gay student being bullied for wearing a pink shirt. The victim, a Grade 9 boy at Central Kings Rural High School in Cambridge, wore a pink polo shirt on his first day of school. Bullies harassed him, called him a homosexual for wearing a pink shirt, and threatened to beat him up, students told CBC News Canada later on. But two Grade 12 students wouldn’t stand for it in their school and they decided to take action. The duo went to a nearby discount store and bought nearly 50 shirts, which they would ask several other students to wear. They later sent out an email asking for others’ support.
The following day, the halls of Central Kings Rural High School were flooded with pink – the result, students refused to be bystanders and bullying stopped.
The anti-bullying day stands to deliver a clear message. Anyone can be a bully, anyone can be a victim, but with strength in numbers and a united front, bullying can become an issue of the past.
And at MVDHS, students and staff have even gone as far to create an anti-bullying team – Team Lionheart, and they made sure the message got out early; they expected and encouraged everyone to wear pink and support the Day of Pink.
For those at MVDHS, the wear-pink-day symbolizes they collectively celebrate diversity and are accepting of everyone’s differences, Cybulskie told the Gazette.
“So many people don’t understand, words hurt,” a student and Team Lionheart member, Kate Aleck said. “We need to be supportive of one another. More people need to stand up against bullies.”
Before it’s too late, another student and team member, Jamie Manion added.
“It’s not right…So many people die and lose their lives, or take their own lives, when we can take a stand now,” Jamie said passionately.
This day is a gift, Denver Gibson, another student piped up and said. The anti-bullying day reminds us, there’s meaning behind everything we say – so, we should chose our words wisely, he said.
But Team Lionheart agreed their school is actually one of the best for not bullying.
High-schooler, and another Lionheart member, Abby Coulas, said everyone is welcoming.
Story continues in the April 17, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.